March 31, 2012

In Which the Author Asks for Your Support

So it turns out, after a kind of nothing-to-lose shot in the dark back in January, my novel, What Ends, is a quarterfinalist in the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award.

I know, right?

Here is what the preliminary readers have had to say so far, about the first chapter:
This excerpt has beautiful writing with a fascinating setting, and lovely use of language that immediately compels the reader to want to learn more about this tiny island. It captures the sense of a soon-to-be-lost world and elicits a preemptive nostalgia for what once was, even though it hasn’t yet been lost. I would definitely want to read more of this story.
And:
I enjoyed this story. I was actually a little disappointed when I found myself at the end of the excerpt, I would have definitely liked to have kept reading. I think the plot has great potential, the characters are engaging and well rounded and the writing is top notch. It's a great story.
Oh, and here's what a totally unsolicited reader had to say about the first chapter, which is now available for Kindle:
A traditional story of families and generational upkeep takes on a new slant with this book's unique setting, the remote Hebrides Islands off Scotland. From the outset, the location is beautifully drawn, and the story set in motion, told in descriptive passages and symbolically through the characters. The author has a great knack for "showing" the story, at a steady pace, and letting the reader develop their own thoughts... An elegantly written excerpt that flows nicely from scene to scene. I'd like to read more.
Guys. The semifinalists are announced on April 24th, and they're chosen based on the reviews that Publisher's Weekly is now writing about the remaining entries — but YOU and ALL YOUR FRIENDS should still go read the first chapter and tell the internet how awesome you think it is. In exchange, once I start hobnobbing with Franzen at swanky NYC literary events, I will totally ask him if he'll go out with you.

March 30, 2012

March 23, 2012

March 16, 2012

March 14, 2012

Wicked Burn

From Boston.com: Transformer fire sends black smoke into streets near Back Bay Hilton; wide swath of the city is plunged into darkness after power is cut

Questions:

1. Can we please send a Peabody award immediately to the Globe reporter who found the Berklee freshman named "Jose PARODY" who says the giant fire "just kind of feels like a movie"? My god, if only it had been an Emerson student, we could have ceased printing news completely for the rest of time.

2. Why, when ABC News, CBS News, the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, and Reuters, among others, are all covering this HUGE ACCIDENT that affected TWENTY THOUSAND PEOPLE in one of the country's MAJOR CITIES, is there not a single freakin' story about it on the New York Times website as of 8:28 this morning? I searched the site, I read through all the headlines in the U.S. section, I Googled... nothing. In fact, the only story they have about Boston today is this one about the freakin' Red Sox–Yankees rivalry.

REALLY, New York? Really? You're still going to carry on this petty "Boston is provincial" thing even when a three-alarm fire kills power to half the city? Or are you just bitter because the Red Sox BEAT YOU last night?

Honestly, this city.

March 13, 2012

Fan Male

I was in Chicago a few weeks ago for a conference, and while there was graciously hosted for a night by an old friend, J. I know J. from my days as an Emerson undergrad, but she dropped out even before I did, instead pursuing a degree first in neuroscience, and then, at grad school, in (*ptooey*) linguistics.

Anyway, as a result of the weirdly small world of linguistics, J. often ends up at conferences with people who know my dad—and at the last one she went to, she had the following conversation:
J.: Oh, yeah, I know Bob Ladd. I stayed at his house once.

PERSON: OMIGOSH. You know Bob Ladd?

J.: Yes.

PERSON: His son has a hilarious blog.
So there you have it, folks. Plethoric pundigrions: entertaining a small handful of linguists since 2006.

March 11, 2012

A Decent Inproposal

From HuffPo Weddings: Bree Maresca-Kramer: 7 Signs He's Never Going To Propose

I want to clarify right off the bat that I didn't get engaged last year and suddenly start reading wedding websites. This link just popped up on my homepage like any other piece of AOL dreck—and since it's been forever since I trashed one of those, and since this one is particularly drecky, I thought: why not?

So, here are some of the seven signs to "help you clarify if he thinks your relationship is for keeps or just fun for right now."
1. He only makes plans for the immediate or short term. He is always ready to make a date for tonight or this weekend but rarely makes plans for the distant future. For instance, you ask him to plan a romantic vacation for next year and he acts hesitantly telling you, "That sounds great, but let's wait until it gets closer before booking the flight and hotel."
Oh my GOD! He doesn't treat a several-hundred dollar trip in the same way as a forty-dollar dinner and a movie? What an immature/emotionally distant/irresponsible asshole etc.
6. He avoids serious talks about the future by diverting your attention. Often a man will do this by trying to make you laugh or engage you in a fun activity.
What a dick! How dare he try and make you laugh or engage you in a fun activity? The only engaging he should be doing is of himself to you, as soon as possible!

Thankfully the article isn't entirely sensationalist and reductive; it also offers some sober advice about what to do if, having followed these incisive diagnostic guidelines, you realize your man is clearly never going to propose.
Before making any final decisions, talk with your man about his long-term intentions. You could broach the subject by saying, "Bob, we have been dating for a year now, I want to check in with you and see where you see our relationship going in the future."
Naturally, this will be most effective if you are actually dating someone called Bob. Also, "we have been dating for a year now"?! Look, I get it, some couples feel close and confident enough to get married after a year (or less). But just because poor Bob isn't ready to propose after a year doesn't mean he's just banging you for fun until his real soulmate comes along. And can we take a minute to appreciate the cognitive dissonance in a worldview where men both (a) bang women for fun with no regard for emotion, and (b) believe there is such a thing as a soulmate and are willing to wait for years to find that true emotional connection? Are men schizophrenic?

Incidentally, lay off poor Bob:
2. He rarely sings your praises to his friends and family. This can be spotted when you are around those closest to him and they say something to the effect of, "Wow, Bob never told us how smart and talented you are!"
Probably because you read the Huffington Post. Earnestly. For relationship advice.

Yeesh.

March 09, 2012

March 06, 2012

You Could Have Just Checked It On Goggle

It's always slightly dispiriting to crack open an acclaimed history book—"heroically researched," quoth the Globe—and have the narrator tune into that well-known radio broadcaster the "Canadian Broadcasting Service" in the first chapter.

March 03, 2012

March 01, 2012

The Form Some Sausages Come In

This month's round-up of my writing elsewhere:

The editors at GMP are always telling us that, for better or for worse, it's the articles about sex that drive traffic. And they're totally right—of all my book reviews for them, the one that's had by far the most comments was my review of the awful, awful "scientific" survey of sexual-attitudes-as-revealed-by-the-internet, A Billion Wicked Thoughts. But then I wrote this about epistemology, and it got just as many. Go figure.

...and then go read my latest snotty column about book review cliches at Ploughshares.